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PM Modi in US: Why India should push for strong healthcare cooperation between the two countries

The current US visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi offers a window of opportunity to initiate valuable dialogue on healthcare collaboration between the two countries. In countries across the globe, the healthcare infrastructure is reeling under the ever-increasing disease burden. PM Modi’s US visit could allow for a major push towards exploring new avenues of collaboration that look at comprehensive healthcare solutions, using technology, data management, disease prevention, newer medicines and state-of-the-art diagnostics that will foster medical innovation in our country.

The key to build, sustain and develop an ecosystem, which encourages investment in medical innovation in India, is to have an R&D culture and a strong IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) policy framework. A robust system that respects IPR can pave the way for increased investment in clinical research, high-paying and skilled jobs, transfer of medical knowledge and early access to new medicines.

 PM Modi in US: Why India should push for strong healthcare cooperation between the two countries

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

With PM Modi’s Make in India Initiative already in place, the time is right for engaging relevant stakeholders and policy makers to streamline systems and build a scientific, economic and policy ecosystem that promotes and rewards medical innovation in the country and attracts investors. We need flexible and transparent policies that give both global corporations and Indian innovators the confidence to invest in research in India. An industry-friendly environment would make businesses feel comfortable in bringing their latest life-saving solutions to our country and enable technology transfer in a truly meaningful way.

The need of the hour is to adopt a more collaborative approach and build on the best practices and strengths that the two countries possess. While India can leapfrog to a more efficient system by learning from the evolution of healthcare in the US, America could further leverage the large cost savings from world-class generic drugs produced by Indian pharmaceutical companies. Very recently two MOUs were signed among premium research institutions in India and the US covering research in cancer, environmental health and injury prevention. A letter of intent has also been signed for antimicrobial resistance – a global challenge, between ICMR and NIH. This is a good sign and an expanded framework for healthcare cooperation would allow both countries to share experience, technologies and best practices. This could be a framework for innovation and collaboration, benefiting both countries immensely and helping millions of patients globally.

It is noteworthy that some of the best doctors and scientists in the US are of Indian origin. Leveraging this talent pool to improve health systems and bring in scientific management systems for healthcare delivery could be the solution toward more efficient use of the greatly stretched resources in India. On the other hand, insurance and healthcare systems in the US could benefit from the low cost, high quality procedures available in India, which could be advantageous for many of their patients.

While innovation has flourished in the US in the development of new medications, procedures, devices, and medical equipment, there has been relatively less innovation in healthcare delivery and services. India is driving innovation in healthcare delivery models which the US may like to adopt to create greater efficiencies in the overall healthcare continuum.  Both countries face challenges in providing high quality healthcare to citizens at affordable costs and the opportunity to exchange these learning curves could benefit both countries and bring down healthcare costs.

In this context, PM Modi’s ongoing US visit, the first under Trump’s presidency, is crucial in initiating meaningful conversations around the building and development of healthcare capacities in both the countries and potential alliances in these areas. Experts believe that collaboration and cooperation in the biomedical and biopharmaceutical fields can help build synergies that could strengthen productivity and increase investment in medical technology and the pharma industries in both countries. Such a collective and collaborative approach could also help to drive economic growth in both countries and encourage a rapid expansion of manufacturing and research capacities.

(The writer is CEO, DakshamAHealth, and founding member of Indian Alliance of Patient Groups (IAPG))

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Updated Date: Jun 26, 2017 16:24:45 IST